A multi-phenotypic cancer model with cell plasticity
(Submitted on 25 Nov 2013)
The conventional cancer stem cell (CSC) theory indicates a hierarchy of CSCs and non-stem cancer cells (NSCCs), that is, CSCs can differentiate into NSCCs but not vice versa. However, an alternative paradigm of CSC theory with reversible cell plasticity among cancer cells has received much attention very recently. Here we present a generalized multi-phenotypic cancer model by integrating cell plasticity with the conventional hierarchical structure of cancer cells. Based on our model, we theoretically explain the universality of the phenotypic equilibrium phenomena reported in various cancer cell lines. By applying our model to concrete biological examples with real experimental data, we show that cancer cell plasticity plays an essential role in transient regulation of cancer heterogeneity. Our work may pave the way for modeling and analyzing the cell population dynamics with cell plasticity.